FTC Investigates Healthcare Sites

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The Federal Trade Commission has contacted HealthCentral.com and iVillage.com, among other healthcare sites, regarding their protection of visitor's personal information, according to wire reports Friday. This is part of a broad review the FTC is launching to find out whether a number of these sites are improperly sharing consumer information with third parties.

"The DMA board of directors passed a number of new guidelines last October that significantly restrict the use of healthcare information for marketing purposes," said Stephen Altobelli, spokesman for the Direct Marketing Associaiton.

The rules now require that member healthcare companies obtain permission in advance before sharing personal information with third parties, Altobelli said. He said it amounted to obtaining a "specific opt-in level of permission."

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